Dear Mr. Rawles:
I first became introduced to the survivalist movement in the 1970s when I read Howard J. Ruff’s books Famine and Survival in America (1974) and How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years: a Crash Course in Personal and Financial Survival (1979). These books dealt mainly with financial preparations but also pointed out the need for food storage, security, and other preparations that would benefit you and your family in emergency situations. I did take allot of his advice on financial investing but ignored his chapters on all of the other advised preparations like food storage and security. I dabbled in gold and silver stocks and future contracts. I didn’t make a lot of money on the contracts but did take Howard Ruff’s advice on the need to own the physical silver and gold. Even having witnessing one of the worst storms in American history, I continued to ignore the need for more preparations other than just financial planning.
In August 1992, I was employed by the State of Florida as an Adult Protective Investigator for the Department of Children and Families in Dade County, Florida. One of my main responsibilities was to evaluate the risk of abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled adults living in family homes and institutions. On Friday August 21, 1992, I was the investigator on call and was responsible to respond to emergency calls made to the Florida Abuse hot line. Most weekends produced about 4 or 5 calls but due to the local news reporting of a storm with winds exceeding 50 miles per hour there was an increase in calls on Friday night. On Saturday morning I had numerous reports that I dealt with and my last call required me to remove an incapacitated elderly woman on Miami Beach from her apartment since she had no caretaker. This was difficult since most hospitals on Miami Beach were not accepting these types of victims in ER. I felt relieved when I was able to locate a hospital that would accept her in North Miami and after getting her situated, I hurried home to put up shutters for the incoming storm. Thank God that I lived 30 miles from the point of landfall of what was coming. Little did anyone know that on August 24 Hurricane Andrew would slam into South Dade, blowing 214 mile per hour winds that peaked at over 350 miles per hour in the early morning hours.
A total of 8,230 mobile homes and 9,140 apartments vanished off the face of the earth that night. The Hiroshima-like horror that was beyond catastrophic and entire families perished in ways too horrifying to describe. The stench of death saturated miles and miles of the massive devastation; the hot humid air was reeking with foul, rotting flesh. The looters were in many neighborhoods within hours of the storm. People were fighting over food and water; they were totally dependent on the government and relief agencies causing a total feeling of helplessness. Generators that sold for $300 a week before were fetching $1,000 or more – if you could find one. I worked with family’s that were out of shelter and food for months observing the stress and desperation that occurs for those that aren’t prepared. Even after witnessing this disaster I continued to view it as a localized short term natural disaster and for the next 25 years while still going through smaller hurricanes, I continued to ignore the need for being prepared. I did continued to follow Howard Ruff’s advice on preparing for financial crisis and purchased many physical pieces of silver and some small amounts of gold.
When purchasing silver, I have been buying one ounce silver rounds from Kitco because you don’t pay the premiums (currently about $3.00) that you pay on silver dollars. They also offer $100 face value bags of junk silver coins. Lately they have been running out stock of these but they do have an alert system for customers that will notify you when in stock. Although sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to receive there orders, I have found them to be very responsive and reliable.
Last week many new precious metals investors saw a severe shakeout. This began on May 4 when Gold was down more than 2% to $1,508 an ounce. Silver fell more than 8% to $39 an ounce. It’s down 19% from its April 28 closing high of $48.70 per ounce and continued to drop on May 5. Absolutely nothing has changed in recent days with regards to the fundamental backdrop for precious metals. Real interest rates remain negative (the Federal Funds rate vs. the expected inflation rate as represented by the TIPS-to-T-note yield spread is deeply in negative territory), the dollar’s exchange rate is still under pressure, and the euro area’s peripheral sovereigns remain mired in a fiscal crisis. All that has happened is that a big run-up in silver ended with the usual bang just as the traditionally seasonally weak period of the year, roughly May to August, for precious metals is beginning. There is nothing terribly surprising about it – and while it represents a severe shakeout, it seems highly unlikely that the crash in silver has altered anything with regards to the long term outlook for both gold and silver. Gold has of course declined in sympathy with silver, but it has held up much better in relative terms, as always happens in correction phases. This shakeout offers opportunities for preppers to purchase physical silver and gold for their emergency money supply.
Since retiring two years ago I have been more aware of the need to prepare not only financially but to develop a basic plan concentrating on the basic survival needs of food, shelter, security, and positive relationships. Since I have spent most of my life as an abuse investigator and social worker working with frail elderly, the developmentally disabled and autistic clients I wasn’t exposed to the needed mechanical and technical skills. After analyzing my personal situation, I decided I needed a simple organize plan addressing these basic survival needs. What I mean about simple is that I looked at each need (shelter, food, and security) and decided to begin by addressing each major aspect of what is needed. For shelter, I decided on the need for an emergency retreat closer to other family members who would be able to provide additional support. For food, I decided on developing an organized food pantry that meets our nutritional needs for at least one year. For security, I decided to improve my skills with firearms by taking firearms training from skilled professionals. I know all of these (simple goals) are very minimal and barely touches the needs for long term preparations but some planning is better than no planning at all.
When I discussed the need for an emergency shelter with my wife I meet some resistance. She is hesitant when it comes to change did not want to abandon our current home. However, with the recent disasters and my constant nudging she is becoming more willing and is seeing the need to make changes. She became more cooperative when I told her of my plans purchase a mobile RV both for vacations and use it in case of emergencies. Since we live in South Florida near the ocean we could evacuate to either our son’s home in western Broward [County] in case of Hurricanes or during a social or other type of crisis we can escape to the Florida Keys (where it is slightly more rural) where our other son resides. I have been pricing them on eBay and Craigslist and was able to locate numerous 1999 to 2005 RVs that start at about $10,000. I expect that these prices will drop with the increase in gas prices and I will be able to pick one up at a lower price in the near future. With my limited mechanical skills I have been reading basic articles on what to look for when purchasing used RVs and have made arraignments with an experienced mechanic to inspect ones that I am considering. I am also conducting research on what would be the best type of power source (gas generator or photovoltaics) that would fit our needs in the R.V.
After reviewing my emergency food pantry, I soon realized how disorganized and inadequate my collection of foods would be in time of crisis. I never considered breaking down daily menus that would meet the nutritional values (protein – 50 g, fats – 65 g, fiber – 25 g, carbohydrates – 300 g) for 2,000 calories per day as recommended by USDA web site. I began organizing pantry for 2 with one year’s worth of food and located food calculator sites that offer advice on recommended amounts. Before getting started I took stock of the storage space that I had available and organized the food into the following groupings:
1. Items that you normally eat and store what you eat. These foods should have be rotated every 3 or 4 months and have a long term storage life of at least 2 years.
2. Things that must be purchased from preparedness providers because they are the only source and have a longer storage life. I have began to sell some silver investments and take the profits and purchase freeze dried meals, vegetables and fruit (especially like blueberries and bananas) with my morning protein shake. I also purchased some freeze dried dog food for my 80 pound lab.
3, Bulk items I can buy locally and inexpensively that can be stored for the long term. I am very new at these types of purchases, preparations, storage and I began to educate myself reading numerous available articles and purchasing small amounts to prepare utilizing trial and error method
When I was making up my menus I thought about an article I read on the SurvivalBlog on March 24 of this year. It was titled “Thrive to Survive by P.M” which pointed out that “Cornerstone food storage recommendations do not recognize the need for high bioavailability proteins during a TEOTWAWKI situation. The view is towards long-term storage-ability and meeting the basic requirements of the appropriate balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein”. Protein powder also has advantage of simple preparation since all you need for a “meal” is water or milk, whatever additives you like ( especially freeze dried fruits) and if no power use hand or battery powdered mixer. I began to try different protein shakes using whey protein and other ingredients but these shakes often had a gritty texture and left a bitter and/or metallic after taste that lingered and had poor long lasting hunger control. When I discussed this with my son who had been using protein shakes for the last year, he pointed out that he recently began using Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Mix after he and his wife were in North Carolina visiting her relatives. They were introduced to the ViSalus program. This is a program offering higher quality, better tasting meal replacements designed to deliver all of your nutritional needs in a single serving. His wife had just recently given birth to their first son so she was using them for weight loss. My son who had a very active lifestyle was using them because of the balanced nutrition and the high quality of protein that each shake provided. When I visited his home and he gave one made with 2 scopes of the mix and wheat germ, one banana, and a half cup of milk (although any type of liquid can be used). I loved it and it controlled my hunger all morning.
I went home that afternoon and calculated the nutritional values which came out to 500 calories per drink giving me 7 grams of fat, 94 grams of carbohydrates, 18.6 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber. What a great nutritional way to start the day. I read the July 2010 Consumer Reports that P.M. referred to in his March 24, 2011 article that warned of some protein powder drinks being heavy in metals exceeding USDA safety limits. The maximum limits for the harmful heavy metals in dietary supplements proposed by the U.S. Pharmacopeia are: arsenic (inorganic), 15 micrograms (µg) per day; cadmium, 5 µg; lead, 10 µg; mercury, 15 µg. Vi-Shape and other high grade brands little is any of these heavy metals. I decided to buy one bag per month for personal nutritional maintenance use and two more to be stored in my emergency food pantry. When you get started on the ViSalus Program they also offer an excellent distributor program with discount pricing.
As I read the numerous articles on security, I really became discouraged due lack of any survival skills and the complexity of most of the topics. However, I did find a basis to start a simple security plan after reading a SurvivalBlog post dated Jan 3, 2011 and entitled “No Matter Where You Live, The Most Important Thing is”, by E-Grandma. It pointed out that “Perhaps his arsenal is the most important thing a true Survivalist can possess. Without the means to keep his water and home from marauding pirates, wild animals bent on finding their own supply of food or zombies out for their own type of destruction, a person will lose everything he has accumulated, perhaps even his family. Everything he holds dear can be taken if a Survivalist cannot defend what is his.” The only experience firing weapons I had was when in 1966 when I enlisted in National guard and U.S. Army Basic Training . I was activated in 1968 for the riots occurring in Miami at the Presidential nomination convention and was sent out to patrol the streets. But unlike Kent State, they issued us our weapons but did not issue any ammunition. In March of this year, I purchased the first weapon I ever owned ( 9 mm Luger) and latter read that this would provide very minimal protection. Realizing I need both education and training I decided to enroll a marksmanship clinic. I have convinced my sons to purchase weapons and this summer we are going on a family outing (including grandchildren and wives). Hope to attend Project Appleseed Training in Myakka City, Florida. For more information: go to the Appleseed web site.
The most important part of the plan was pointed our in E-Grandma’s article when she quoted Charles Swindoll “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts…it is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a home. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…life is 10% what happens…and 90% how I react to it .“ As I initiate this long overdue basic plan. I just do it. I will better off today than yesterday and hopefully be in a better position to help my family, friends and community.
Thank you, – David M.